Ella’s Desire by Madeline Martin

Ella's Desire (Borderland Ladies #3)Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Borderland Ladies #3
Publication Date: 7/30/19
Number of Pages: 293
** 3.75 Stars Rounded Up

This author is one of my favorites and is one whose books I always buy – without even thinking about it. This series is one of her best – the premise is unique, the main characters are robust and interesting and the supporting characters are just as interesting and unique as the main characters. The first book, Marin’s Promise, set a very high bar for the other books in the series to meet. Then, Anice’s Bargain came along at definitely met that high bar. Now, Ella’s Desire is here and I think maybe it didn’t quite reach that bar. It is still a great read, just not at the same level as the first two books. Maybe it is that series-middle-book-slump thing. Ella just wasn’t who I thought she was based on the first two books. I thought she was pretty selfish through most of this book and she was definitely spoiled. I really didn’t manage to connect with either of the main characters, but I identified more with Bronson than with Ella. I believe the author was trying to go in a different direction with this book and it just wasn’t as exciting, can’t-catch-my-breath, and un-put-downable as the first two books. Bronson is definitely NOT a Highlander. Still, as I said, a great read.

Lady Ella Barrington is called to the solar where she finds her father along with her two older sisters, Marin and Anise, awaiting her. That alone tells her it is a very serious matter. When she asks what is happening, she is told that the King is questioning their father’s loyalty because both Marin and Anise have married Scots. Therefore, the King has ordered that Ella (as the oldest unmarried daughter) marry Bronson Berkley, the Earl of Calville. Ella is aghast – she has always wanted to marry for love – and her father promised her that she could. ** This is the part where Ella’s selfishness starts to show itself. She had to actually think about whether to follow the King’s command knowing that if she did not, her father would lose either his life or his freedom.

Bronson Berkley, Earl of Calville, has just had the biggest shock of his life. His father died and Bronson found out that there is no money, he and his father have been living on credit, his stepmother and stepsister are near to starving, and the estate is in near ruins. The King has told him that if he will marry the Earl of Werrick’s oldest unmarried daughter, Bronson’s back taxes will be forgiven and he will receive a stipend for a year in order to put his estate back in order. That is an offer Bronson can’t refuse because he had no idea of the conditions his stepmother and stepsister had been living in and he has to do whatever it takes to make life better for them.

The better part of the book is taken up with the back and forth between Bronson and Ella. Bronson is fully committed to the betrothal/marriage, but Ella isn’t. She tries various ways to dissuade Bronson from marrying her – and at the same time keeps dragging him into intimate situations. The final twenty-five to thirty percent gets more exciting and Bronson finally shows himself to be the hero he has really been all along.

This is a well-written book that I think you will enjoy.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

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